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Police across B.C. look to step up enforcement to catch impaired drivers during the holiday season

Holiday CounterAttack roadchecks begin this weekend. (Gian Paolo Mendoza/CBC - image credit)
Holiday CounterAttack roadchecks begin this weekend. (Gian Paolo Mendoza/CBC - image credit)

Police across Metro Vancouver and other parts of British Columbia will increase their presence on the road as part of a month-long campaign targeting impaired drivers.

CounterAttack aims to keep impaired drivers off roads and raise public awareness of the dangers and consequences of driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Impaired driving cases are common this time of the year, says Const. Mansoor Sahak, spokesperson for North Vancouver RCMP.

"The holiday season is upon us and our officers will be keeping themselves busy to catch impaired drivers," he said during a telephone interview with CBC News.

Sahak said RCMP took nine impaired drivers off the road during a road check at the Second Narrows Bridge on Nov. 25.

Impaired drivers can be prohibited from driving from between 24 hours and 90 days, and have their vehicle impounded, he said. They also could face fines from $600 to $4,060 and even jail time, he added.

"These roadblocks are done on the weekends but there will also be police presence on weekdays through out the month," Sahak said.

Statistics from ICBC show that impairment from alcohol or drugs is the third-leading cause of crashes in the province behind distraction and speed. On average, 61 people die each year from crashes where impairment is a contributing factor, says Sahak.

"If you plan on drinking and having fun plan a safe ride home. There should be no excuse to drive drunk home," he said.

Rudy, Operation Red Nose's reindeer mascot, stands by as a police officer speaks to a volunteer Operation Red Nose driver.
Rudy, Operation Red Nose's reindeer mascot, stands by as a police officer speaks to a volunteer Operation Red Nose driver.

Rudy, Operation Red Nose's reindeer mascot, stands by as a police officer speaks to a volunteer driver. The non-profit helps get people home safely over the holidays (Operation Red Nose TriCities, Burnaby and New West/Facebook)

Getting people home safely during the holidays 

Coquitlam RCMP released a statement Tuesday urging people who are considering consuming alcohol or drugs during the holidays to find alternate ways to get home.

One option is Operation Red Nose, which connects holiday revellers with volunteers who will chauffeur them and their vehicle home.

The annual safe-ride service returned on Friday and will be available on seven other nights in December.

Jackie Weinkam, Operation Red Nose's coordinator for Burnaby, New West and the Tri-Cities, said the volunteer-run operation has a long tradition in B.C. and is marking its 28th anniversary.

"When people call us, three of our volunteers go out to pick them. Two of them go into the caller's car, and the other follows behind the other two to take them back to base," she said.

The service is free, but people using it are encouraged to give a donation with proceeds going to a youth-based charity.

This year, Operation Red Nose will run in seven communities across B.C.:  Burnaby, New Westminster, the Tri-Cities, Chilliwack, Pitt Meadows, Maple Ridge and Williams Lake.